by Jennifer Weiss
Campus Times Staff
A lot more than music was being discussed in Kathy Robinson?s and Louis Bergonzi?s introductory Music Education course yesterday.
Instead of going over the ?music circles? diagrams that each student was supposed to have prepared for the class, the group arranged itself in a circle and began to talk about the tragedy that struck America the day before.
?This is something that affects us all,? Robinson said when asked why she had chosen to discuss Tuesday?s events in lieu of the planned agenda. ?When your security has been threatened, it?s hard to think about other things. It needs to be addressed.?
The show must go on
Many people on both campuses over the past few days have been wondering why Eastman chose to keep its doors open on Tuesday. According to UR?s website, ?all classes except at the Eastman School of Music? were cancelled Tuesday. Other schools in the area, federal buildings, the Rochester Airport and even the Memorial Art Gallery also closed.
Why didn?t Eastman bow out as well?
?I felt strongly that we should keep the School open and give the students and faculty the freedom to decide for themselves whether to attend or hold classes,? explained James Undercofler, Director of the Eastman School. ?The students and faculty here have very strong and supportive relationships.
?I felt it was better to give the students the chance to discuss this terrible time with their teachers than to send everyone back to the dormitory or home, where they might have been alone,? Under-cofler said.
Undercofler was one of the key players in a team of five administrators ? David Strong, Betsy Marvin, Susan Robertson and Adrian Daly ? who were involved in the decision-making process Tuesday afternoon. According to Daly, talk of possibly cancelling classes began at noon. The decision that Eastman would remain open was made by 12:45.
At 1 p.m., posters were made and distributed announcing the fact that classes would not be canceled. At 1:40, an e-mail entitled ?Eastman Community Announcement? was sent to all Eastman students. The e-mail begins, ?Despite the national tragedy that is unfolding, the Eastman school officially remains open.?
It continues on, explaining that instructors may choose to cancel classes and that students may choose to excuse themselves as necessary.
?Personally, I think it was important to stay open, if nothing else to support the students who are here and show that we are not panicking,? said Daly, assistant dean of students and of career planning.
?Closing the school would have been almost giving weight to the terror that these actions were designed to create,? Daly said.
Daly mentioned that students met the decision with mixed emotions. Several concerned students responded to the ?Eastman Community Announcement? e-mail with questions and complaints.
Freshman cellist Andrea Weber, who lives an hour and 20 minutes north of the New York City and commutes there often, went to a class yesterday afternoon in which the situation was barely addressed. ?That?s my city that just got demolished, and we?re just going to sit around and talk about chamber music?? she said Wednesday.
Second-year graduate student and violinist Alexandra Cutler-Fetkewicz opted not to attend her afternoon orchestra class. ?I had to be by a phone and not by a music stand,? she said. Many of her friends are Eastman graduates who live in New York City.
Trying to help
On the flipside, sophomore violinist Yi-ting Chen decided to go to class and had a very positive experience. Professor of Accompanying Jean Barr spent a lot of time at the beginning of her Instrumental Sonata and Duo Class initiating a discussion about the disaster, and then talking about what people could do to help. One of the ways Barr believed they could help was through music.
The group discussed the possibility of planning a trip to New York City to perform their chamber repertoire in hospitals. ?For a lot of people, music is the best comfort,? Chen said.
Most students yesterday found ways to help out that didn?t involve packing up and traveling into the city.
Eastman Dean of Students Phyllis Wade said that the students rallied together Tuesday, giving blood and placing Red Cross donation cans in various places around the city.
Strength in community
Many students feel that the Eastman community has been strengthened as a result of the tragedy through participation in these or other relief activities. ?We all felt out of control for a minute,? said senior bassoon performance major Eric Goldman, ?but I think that our actions have answered the question, what are we to do??
As school continues in the coming weeks, the fact that Eastman remained open while River Campus closed will hardly matter, according to administrators. Both administrations feel that they made the best decisions for their students, and hope that eventually the wounds inflicted Tuesday will heal.
Jennifer Weiss can be reached at email@example.com.